During E3, we were treated very well by Koei Tecmo’s team in attendance. Not only did they let us have a shot at Attack on Titan (which was admittedly fun, even though I’m not at all a fan of the series), but we got to have a full 30 minute demo with Nioh.
Having played the original Alpha that was released as a public test, I went in skeptical. There are a lot of things that I really liked about the game – the combat, setting, atmosphere. A lot of the art direction and style is right up my alley.
But there were a number of things in the demo that left me with cold feet regarding the game; things like weapon durability and stamina management among others. The demo I played at E3 put some of those issues to rest while making others worse in the process.
There was more than one area available in the demo, though I bypassed the tutorial-like area and headed into one of the new areas to see what it was like. I was greeted with a beautiful landscape of swaying tall grains or grass, and the scenery was great.
The area was essentially a few open areas attached with corridors between them, and each open area had enemies spawn until you took them all down in a row.
This sort of set-up was my first issue. I liked the exploration of the alpha’s area, learning where enemies were, opening shortcuts and the like. However, this area removed all of that in favor of a wave mechanic that threw enemies at me one after another.
I wasn’t upset by it initially, but seeing the entire area just repeat this did eventually get on my nerves. However, I took it in stride and instead focused on the combat.
Combat was hit or miss for me. In it’s base form, the combat is absolutely excellent. All of the action is basically fluid, intense, and visceral. However, it really begins to fall apart as the game throws more enemies at once at you – and by the time you’re trying to take on 3 or 4 enemies at once, you just get overwhelmed too quickly.
One enemy is fun and engaging, two is dangerous, exciting, and one hell of a thrill. Three enemies or more, and you’ve got a hellish experience that is more punishing than your average player will be able to handle – and this is where things started going south for me.
I don’t want to say it was too hard, or give excuses like that. And I was able to pass the parts with lots of enemies, too. But when I did, I felt less like it was skill and morel like luck.
This sort of juggling of enemies was less an issue in the original alpha area where you could pull enemies with a ranged weapon, but here the enemies spawned in and aggro’ed to you immediately.
Nioh’s combat feels like it struggles to adapt to fighting multiple enemies, and the game isn’t made for it. That becomes immediately apparent, too, when a small group of enemies can stun lock you into oblivion if you miss your guard.
My only other complaint that remained is stamina management. Or less the management part, but rather the way that you are forced to hunch over to catch your breath if you run out.
Slow me down, make my guard drop, whatever – but making me sit there helpless for several seconds makes losing your stamina far more dangerous than any enemy in the game.
There were a lot of good things in the demo, too, though. The removal of weapon durability was a literal life saver, and the game certainly feels better off for it. Combat still remains the biggest draw despite my gripes with it, because the gameplay is really just fun.
Despite all of my bellyaching over the multiple enemy issue I have, I absolutely had a blast playing the vast majority of the demo. I do have faith in Nioh still – and if I’m honest, I’d still be happy to play the game right now and get my face beat into the dirt over and over again as it plays now.
Why? Because it’s just fun.
Nioh is still set for a release on PS4 this year, though there’s no announced date yet.